I’m having a hard time looking for a job. I don’t know if it has anything to do with my resume. Being an undergraduate, I only apply for positions that do not require a college degree (such as a messenger or clerk). I always pass the exams and get to be called for interviews but I don’t get the job. Sometimes I get frustrated. I was wondering if you can give me some advise. I really need to get a job, even part time, in order to support my studies. – Undergrad Jobseeker
Look at the bright side—your getting called for interviews means that you met the qualifications of the position you are applying for and passed the tests. Now, that is quite an achievement! Why? First, your resume must be interesting enough to have been pulled out of the hundreds of resumes received by the personnel department. Second, you have been able to pass tests that often disqualify 75 percent of the applicants taking them (based on my long experience of administering tests). The interview is now the last door you must be able to open to get the job that you want.
To be able to open this door, you must look into a mirror first. To pass the interview, you must take a long honest look at yourself. Often, applicants get passed over because there is someone else brighter and better than the rest. You must make sure that you are the one who is brighter and better than the rest. You need not place your destiny in the hands of your “competitors.” You must be able to project yourself as the best candidate. Try assessing yourself by answering the following questions:
1. Are you professionally groomed when you go to the interview? Recruitment officers are already impressed with applicants who get to the interview stage based on their resumes and test results. But they get disappointed when the applicant appears in person. Sometimes, they see a large discrepancy between what’s on paper and the person. For example, the applicant may have gotten high marks on the IQ test. But when he gets there, he doesn’t answer like someone who has a high IQ. Or the applicant may claim that he had selling experience. But upon in-depth questioning, it may turn out he did have a good sales record. Or the applicant may appear to be professionally groomed in the photo. But, when he comes for the interview, he appears untidy, wears a faded T-shirt and has dirty rubber shoes.
2. Do you answer the questions with respect and courtesy? Oftentimes, applicants turn off interviewers with too much aggressiveness or smartaleck answers. In applying for a rank-and-file or executive position, the more respectful you are, the more impressive you will be.
3. Are you able to project your strengths to the interviewer? To do this, you first must know what they are. If you are hardworking, tell the interviewer, “Ma’am, I do not mind working overtime or on my rest days for as long as I get the job done.” If you are open to learning new things, tell the interviewer, “Sir, I may not know the other aspects of the job right now but I am always happy to learn the ropes and learn it fast.”
4. Do you project a pleasant personality? No interviewer will hire someone who does not smile or appears to be grumpy all the time. Make sure as you answer the questions to stretch your face into a smile.
5. Are you asking for too much? Perhaps, you may have mentioned a desired salary that is not within the budget of the hiring company. If you are willing to accept any and all work, you can tell the interviewer, “I am willing to accept the salary rate provided for by your budget or pay plan.” Or perhaps you have asked for certain arrangements that the company would not like to give such as getting off early to attend classes.
To get more clues on what you can improve in your interview, try to observe the interviewer’s reactions during the interview. If she is leaning towards you as she talks, this indicates you have established rapport. If she is leaning against the chair pushed back from the table, this may mean she is not open to what you are saying. If she nods her head when you answer, this means she is satisfied with your answers. If she has a slight frown on her face, this may mean she is forming a negative opinion of you.
As you read the interviewer’s body language, you will find out what clicked and what turned the interviewer off. If there are two or more interviewers (this is called a panel interview), be sure to watch the body language of all the interviewers. You will not get the nod if one objects to hiring you.
In sum, try to be your best critic. But in so doing, don’t lose hope! Just hang on in there. In my early career, I did not pass many interviews. But the ones I did were worth the wait. I am sure that your dream job is waiting for you.
Photo credit: http://www.freeimages.com